A Delicious Read

 “Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways to Braise, Roast, and Grill”, by Justin Smillie and Kitty Greenwald is a hearty cookbook that reads more like a conversation with an incredibly talented chef who has let you behind the scenes at his restaurant to show you how to make amazing meals. As Smillie writes this book has 52 meals to be enjoyed when you have time: most likely the weekend, although there are a few that would be perfect for a weeknight meal.

Personally, I grew up watching the women of my family create meals in the kitchen and men spent their time focusing on the grill. So this book is perfect in helping me to build my culinary confidence in grilling as well as braising.

Another component of this cookbook that I love is the appreciation of how it takes time to create something extraordinary, this book walks you through that process. It breaks it down and walks you through the process. This book is focused on rustic Mediterranean cuisine, it is clear that Smillie has a true passion demonstrated with each stunning picture.

The chapters start out with mastering basic techniques and then as you get comfortable there are tweaks to those techniques. The fourth chapter is all about foundations and finishes: sauces, oils, broths and accoutrements for a stunning meal.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention this book is also gorgeous! Ed Anderson has brilliantly captured the rustic feel of the meals as well as created what I can only imagine would compare to an experience at Smillie’s restaurant, Upland, in New York City.

This book is great for your favorite foodie, someone who wants to be inspired and get back to rustic Mediterranean cooking.
Bloggers Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  However thoughts and opinions are my own.


All Things Outlander

All Things Outlander

I don’t know if you are new to the party or have been here all along since 1991.  I’m relatively new, I’ve been reading Diana Gabaldons books since 2009 and feel like Claire and Jamie are old friends at this point.  The wait between books has been so incredibly hard for me, in all honesty, I stop reading the last hundred pages and wait till a publication date is announced and then will start reading again only when the next book is on the horizon.

Now that Outlander is a television series I feel like there are so many more people who I can share in the fun of all things Outlander.  So here goes, these are some of my most favorite things inspired by Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

Outlandish Companion

Outlandish Companion

The perfect addition to any Outlander fans collection of books.  This book has a little bit of everything.  A synopsis of the first four novels, pronunciation guides, Diana Gabaldon’s explanation of her time travel theory, personal stories, recipes and essays about eighteenth century medicine magic and other goodies.  Rumor has it that there will be another Outlandish Companion since this one only covers the first four novels.

Source: Lovelit Etsy Shop

Source: Lovelit Etsy Shop

Tote for those weighty tomes

You will need a rather sturdy tote to carry around these books – did you know that in total the eight books weigh almost 23 pounds – yes, I’m a nerd and just got out the scale to weigh them.

Herbal Salve Set - Claire's Salves. Inspired by Diana Gabaldon's Best Selling Novels the Outlander Series

Source: Earthtastic Etsy Shop

 Outlander inspired Salve

Claire is such an interesting character to me, how her interests in botany lend themselves into the role of a healer.  I found these incredibly delightfully packaged salves on Etsy.  I haven’t yet tried them, but am deeply in love with the packaging and the inspiration behind their creation.

READY TO SHIP! Hand Knit Outlander Inspired Claire's Mobius Super Soft Cowl in Brown Marble, Chunky Knit, Infinity Scarf, Neck Warmer

Source: Knit Play Love

 Claire’s Cowl

After watching Outlander on Starz, I think many people who knit must have run out the next day and started making the amazing knit items that Claire wears in the show.  The cowls, hand warmers and shrugs are gorgeous and make me wish I could knit a little bit better than I can.  I found this awesome cowl on Etsy.  Perfect for those chilly days that are among us now.

Standing Stones Scotland

Source: Visit Scotland


Scotland’s tourism folks have used the love of all things Outlander to create some really fantastic travel tips, tours and packages on their website.  When I first started reading the books, I dreamed of traveling to Scotland and walking in the highlands and drinking whiskey, maybe forcing my husband to wear a kilt.  It is brilliant marketing, I hope you enjoy checking it out.

source: Blue Monocle Prints

source: Blue Monocle Prints

Antique Scotland Map Circa 1752

If you’ve been reading my blog you know I love maps, I couldn’t resist this beauty.  This map is just a few years ahead of when Claire is transported back in time.   I suspect that if you look really closely you will see Doune Castle west of Sterling on this map which is where the filming of Castle Leoch took place.

Let me know which item you like best and if I’ve missed something let me know too.

Tá lá iontach,



Historic Charleston: In Search of a Map

I have a thing for maps, if you’ve read any of my previous posts you’ll notice a trend.  Before we left for South Carolina, I called around to find out where you could get a print of an antique map in Charleston.  I called the Charleston Historical Society and the Preservation Society of Charleston.  Both of the lovely ladies I spoke with recommended the same place: Carolina Antique Maps & Prints.

This is the map I desired

Antique Map of Charleston SC, by C.N. Drie 1872 Print $25

When we planned our day trip to Charleston this was one of my main places I wanted to stop.  So off we go with our two children in tow.  Ironically enough, I cannot read a map to save my soul; truly ask my husband.  This is silly on so many levels, mainly because while we were driving I kept saying we are close, just park here.  Since my stellar map reading skills are so honed we ended up literally parking right in front of the store even though I couldn’t see it.  Here is where silly turns to hilarious in a matter of seconds.

A Plan of the Attack of Fort Sulivan, near Charles Town in South Carolina. William Faden

A Plan of the Attack of Fort Sullivan, near Charles Town in South Carolina.
William Faden $13,000

We open the door to this cute little map shop and walk in.  The woman running the place welcomes us, my husband, 5-year-old daughter and 14 month old who is covered in snacks from her car seat.    My husband while holding tight to the 5-year-old looked at a map that was $13,500.  While I flipped through a folio of maps that were ranging between $800-$1300.  My husband and I glance at each other while flipping, doing that silent look of knowing that only spouses can do.  Knowing that you have no business being in this place with these children.  This is when things just got ridiculous.  The lovely lady asked me if I was looking for anything special.  To which I, with reddening cheeks, say yes, I was told that I could get a print of an antique Charleston map here.  She says oh yes, what price point are you looking for?  I respond under $100 and she almost laughs and says that nothing in the store is under $200.  Then she lets me know of a linguistic, possibly regional error that I have made.  The word “print” does not mean “reproduction” which is clearly what I am looking for.

I do want you to know that Carolina Antique Maps & Prints, has some of the most gorgeous maps I have ever seen.  However, if you are looking for a “reproduction” of an antique map of Charleston, go to the market, I found one for $25, and we didn’t even have to break into the girls college fund.


If you like maps too, check out my etsy shop.


Valentines for the Petite


This year we made crayon hearts, we did this a few years ago when she was 2, but she doesn’t remember so we did it again this year.  It is really a fun craft to do.  When I first read about this on pinterest 2 years ago, there was no mention of the things that can go wrong when you’re making them.  So I wanted to add some insight for people making these.

You need a lot of crayons… and not dark ones, there are a surprising amount of dark colored crayons in any given box.   It is also a lot easier to get them out of the pan if you are using a silicon heart shaped pan.  When I went to make these a few years ago, I could only find a 6 cup heart muffin pan, this one would be a lot better since you would get 12 crayons at a time – using less crayons.

Another area to look out for when you pull it out of the oven, you don’t want to jiggle it too much or the colors will blend together giving it a more mixed up look (unless that is the look you’re going for, then jiggle away).

Things you’ll need:

  1. 4-5 boxes of 24 crayons (take out the dark colors)
  2. xacto knife
  3. regular knife
  4. muffin pan

You’ll want to set the over to 250 degrees.  Cut the pieces into about a centimeter size, it doesn’t need to be exact.  Mix them into the cups the way your petite likes the best.  Pop in the oven.  Using the silicon pan it will take about 17-20 minutes to melt the crayons.  If using a metal pan, about 15 minutes.

I watch it so it doesn’t go completely liquid, you want it to look a little bumpy on top.  It doesn’t smell terribly when you’re melting it, but if you have a petite or someone who is more sensitive to smells be aware.  You’ll want to keep them in the pan until they are completely cool.

The petite making her Valentine’s for her friends with lots of very thoughtful crayon piece placement.

Happy Valentine’s Eve!


Reflections on Consumerism and Raising the Petites

My Sunday morning was spent drinking a cup of tea and reading about this amazing Mom in Britain: Hattie Garlick.  She created this blog to chart her journey of a year of opting out of “kid consumerism” after reading about her journey, it really got me thinking and reflecting on my spending for the petites and what it means and the implications of kid consumerism.

I reflected about the money that we spend on “things” (as you can see, the petite doesn’t lack things) , how going Target to get the necessities can mean spending close to a hundred bucks and how many of those bucks are spent on things that we don’t need, that aren’t nourishing foods, are poorly made, or just simply over indulgent – over time these things really add up.  How it is almost impossible for me to walk past the children’s clothes section and not just grab a cute onesie or pair of jeggings.  Rationalizing these choices with false need or inflated reward.

What I mean by inflated reward is that now whenever, and I mean seriously every time, we go to the store my 4 year old wants something.  A snickie (snack item), or small toy, whatever, she now, through my own creation will throw a fit if she doesn’t get something.  I also know for a fact that I say if you are a good girl while we are running errands you can have _____.  So now, I have created this little petite who has been conditioned that good behavior in a store is not expected, but is rewarded.  So now that I am aware of what I’ve done, comes the process of undoing it.  We, as a family, have spent a lot of time talking about earning things.  The petite has a Responsibility Chart and when she does the items on it she can earn something from a prize bag (mainly Target dollar Hello Kitty Items). I wish I could say that I didn’t need to break it, that I didn’t have moments where I just wanted to take the easy road, but that isn’t the case.  But breaking the “what do I get” now is imperative.

Just this week I was chatting with a friend who is still teaching and she was saying that her kids always say well “what do I get?”  Turning in homework, showing up on time, being polite and kind, participating – what do I get?  It is funny to me, because even when I was in grade school which wasn’t that long ago, I graduated from high school in 1998,it wasn’t like that.  Honestly I don’t remember thinking when there were team challenges in class, I wondr what does the winning team get?  Umm…the WIN!  You turned in your homework or you got in trouble.  What you got was a grade.  Somehow now that is not enough.  There were consequences, now in place of accountability and responsibility we have entitlement.

What got me really thinking about Hattie Garlick’s journey to opt out of child consumerism and if there is a link to this entitlement.  I don’t have the answers I am just one mom trying to do what is best in a realistic way for my petites to ensure that when the are older they don’t firmy believe that the world owes them something.  That instead they believe that they can contribute something to the world instead.


What’s in my Diaper Bag

diaper bagI love how other bloggers out there write about what is in their purse of their diaper bag etc.  I wanted to go ahead and talk about what is in mine. I don’t carry a “diaper bag”, I prefer to carry a large purse.  I have always had large purses even before I had kids.  Now that I have two little petites I find that my love of large purses has come in handy.

So here goes (starting at the bottom and going up):

  • diapers
  • wipes
  • mam binkies (usually loose not in the case)
  • hat for smallest petite
  • a zipoc bag with change of clothes for the smallest petite (under the hat
  • cute zippered bag:

Band aids, Neosporin, medicines and more lipsticks 🙂

  • burp cloth
  • wallet
  • sunglasses
  • blue folder for coupons (I wish I was an amazing coupon user, but alas I’m not)
  • Grab and Go coloring pages (Target dollar bins)
  • Kleenex
  • Altoid case with crayons in it
  • hand sanitizer
  • lip gloss
  • chapstick
  • lipstick (I confess, I cleaned out my bag a few weeks ago and had 9 lip gloss/stick items)
  • lotion
  • ziploc bag of snacks for the older petite
  • reusable bag (Because I always forget them in the car)
  • mole skin notebook
  • pen

I laugh at all of the stuff that is in here.  When I was cleaning out the bag, I had a good handful of dirty fruit snacks, raisins and some form of smashed cracker.  I also found a diaper that was dirty from God knows when…gross.

Most of the time I am shocked at how heavy my purse is, but when you empty it all out, you can see why it is heavy.  I will say that I have won that game at baby showers where you mark all the crap in your purse more than one time.

A Wee Little Baby Shower

I am so excited, I am hosting a baby shower for a dear friend.  She is having a little girlie, so naturally everything must be PINK! I have spent quite a bit of time scouring pinterest to find the best ideas and cutest themes.  For the nursery they are having a pink and grey elephant theme, so that is going to be the theme of the shower too.

Wish I could say these were my original thoughts or ideas, but they came from here:

1/2/3/4 & 5/6/8

Where to buy these items:


I’m so excited for the little touhes that are going to make this shower special


Ramblings of the Sleep Deprived



Dear people who sleep on a regular basis,

This is not a post for you…you may be very confused at times while reading, feel free to ask new parents what’s up…maybe just give them a coffee first.  To give you a clear picture I used to be a person who enjoyed sleeping in on the weekends.  I even recall times when I was in high school falling asleep after school only to be told it was dinner time. I remember every Monday morning when my high school French teacher would demand what I did over the weekend, the only French phrase I still remember to this day is “J’dormi dans”.   Little did I know that these were the days of good solid sleep.  Sleep where you actually feel rested, sleep where you wake up and think, wow, I feel great.  Sleep where you don’t wake up panicked because of all of the screaming or panicked because it is too quiet. Sleep where you don’t wake up and go eff it’s already 6:00 am.  Sleep where you wake up with a bed full of small children.

Not to get ahead of myself here,  in July of 2008 my husband and I started thinking about having petites and like all people venturing out there into thinking about kids its exciting and terrifying and just something so fun to think about and your thinking yeah babies don’t sleep but that doesn’t last forever right?  Honestly, I didn’t really think about the lack of sleep I was think about all those cute little onesies and baby names.  Fast forward to July 2009.

Our beautiful petite has arrived and her first night on the outside is spent crying and very awake.  My hubby walks her for hours through the hospital wing (being careful not to pass the line on the floor that sounds the alarms and lockdown).  The nurses kindly assured us this happens all the time they have their little nights and days mixed up etc. This is the part where you will recognize the foreshadowing.  The petite did not sleep through the night until she was perhaps 2 and a half years old.  My hubby and I would walk around like zombies, we learned very quickly to drink lots of caffeine try not to think about how tired we were and never, NEVER engage in conversations with other parents about how their child was sleeping.  On the occasion where we did have conversations about sleep with those horrible gloating “oh my brand new baby sleeps through the night and has been a perfect sleeper since they day they were born” type of parents; we would both leave feeling like they were basically full of shit or gloating because when their darling little Rip Van Winkle had something to make up for…slow to sit up, colic, general mal content…whatever.  When our petite finally started sleeping through the night a funny thing happened, I was so used to the wake ups that I wasn’t able to sleep through the night and would find myself bending over her cherub little face feeling for breath.  All the while hoping I wouldn’t step on that squeaky floor board on my way to the door.

So I ask you what does any logical person in my place do once their petite finally and I mean finally starts sleeping through the nigh?  Pretty obvious right?  You start to think about having another petite. Jump ahead… now we are preggo and as you probably know, have heard about, or really can relate, pregnant people don’t sleep well at all.  Even more so people lucky enough to sleep in the same bed with them, even on one of those mattresses where you can bowl and drink at the same time, a pregnant woman is no match for that, you see there are sound effects, moaning, under the breath swearing, sometimes in my case team lifting situations happening (we have an ungodly high bed, literally it’s almost 3.5 feet off the ground), which could sometimes result in a giggle followed by a swearing fit.  So you know sleep is already a totally wishful thing.  Now it is getting close to petite #2 arriving and petite #1 starts waking up in the middle of the night again!  WTF.  You might be thinking well she just said she is writhing around in bed, getting lifted to and fro, etc., she’s already awake – well no, because as people with kids know it never ever happens at the same time.

Baby #2 arrives and this little petite can sleep, she is the cutest when she sleeps, little pouty lips, sighs all of it.  She sleeps so well we are shocked, so well we have to wake her to eat.  So well, in fact, that we refuse to answer the question are you getting much sleep with any sort of real answer, “oh yeah you know”, “she’s great”, “wow, I’m so tired”, all the while thinking HOLY SHIT she sleeps so well don’t tell anyone we’ll jinx it.  Then after a while you kind of have to embrace it, this petite is amazing.  It must be comeuppance since her sister slept so shitty for 2.5 years.

We got used to our good little sleeper, the big sis got sorted out and was once again sleeping through the night and we were rested, like well rested, functioning with only moderate coffee intake.  Ironically enough my hubby and I spent the night in a fancy hotel sans the petites and we kept waking up throughout the night hearing phantom cries – it was not a haunted hotel – it was a Fairmont.

What I will say is that life is short, sleep is great, and you need it, people who tell you to sleep while you’re re pregnant before the baby comes need to know that’s not helpful.  People who knowingly gloat about their good sleeper to a sleep deprived parent are just plain rude.  But hopefully like all things with petites the sleep will return and in the meantime, map out the nearest Starbucks and get a really great concealer to hide the bags under your eyes.  By the by, I am still in search of a great concealer for those pesky under eye dark circles, if you use a great concealer let me know what it is in the comment section.  The one I use is no match for my eye rubbing come 11 am when I am wishing I could curl up somewhere and take a nap.

I laugh because when I started writing this my little one was an awesome sleeper and now, well, she is starting to get her first tooth, it’s not here yet, but it is coming.  For those of you not pregnant or without kids, or with kids who sleep take a nap and bask in the pure bliss of sleep…just don’t tell any of us sleep deprived people.




Bravest Petite I Know

As part of my petites ongoing testing to get her medications sorted out and the seizures to stop she has to have the occasional blood draw.  Since she is four it is pretty hard for her to really understand this process fully especially since she isn’t aware that she has epilepsy.  She is aware that she doesn’t feel well all the time, but not the specifics.  Well, she had to have a blood draw and when I picked her up from her preschool I told her we were going to go to the doctor and that she would be getting a shot.  She burst into tears and yelled that she didn’t want to get a pokey poke.  That it would hurt and that she was scared.  All while this is happening I usually forget, until later, how incredibly lucky I am that she can articulate all of her feelings about this even if sometimes it’s done by yelling on the side of the street. Once we got to the hospital she told me she was scared and didn’t want to go.  We talked about being brave and what that means…that sometimes we have to do things even when they are scary and we aren’t feeling brave.  My petite took a deep breath and said she was starting to feel braver.  When it was her turn they called her name and she got right up and walked to the nurse and introduced herself.  She saw the sticker basket and chose her two stickers and put them on the counter saying that they were for when she was done.  She hopped into the chair and held out her arm.  The nurse showed her the tourniquet and how it made her veins come out and the petite felt her veins.  This is when she started to get a little nervous…she took a deep breath and watched the nurse draw her blood.  She didn’t even cry.  When she was done she hopped down and thanked the nurse for taking her blood grabbed her stickers and walked out. photo Sometimes I forget she is only four years old.  I forget how articulate she is and can tell you how she feels even when she is really mad and really frustrated.  But she is still four, she is still in so many ways my baby girl.  It is in moments like this that I am astounded by how brave she is.  How polite she is to thank the woman who just drew her blood.  She is so much braver than I was.  In fact, there is a story about when I was 8 years old and getting some teeth pulled and I was terrified.  I got to the oral surgeons office and said I needed to go to the bathroom and promptly barricaded myself in the bathroom.  I think it must have been that smell, you know the dentist smell I’m talking about?  There was no amount of talking that was going to get me out, no bribery to be had, and no demands to be met.  I was content to live the remainder of my days in a bathroom at the oral surgeons.  Unfortunately for me, they had a schedule to keep and a key. I don’t know if bravery skipped a generation, but my petite is the bravest girl I know.

Raising the Petite Stags: Thoughts on Being a Working Mom and Stay at Home Mom

It all started a little over 4 years ago.  My first petite was born in July of 2009. Being a teacher I had the summer off and was able to roll right into maternity leave and then FMLA leave…it was amazing, I was able to stay home with my baby until she was 5 months old.  During those first five months I tried my hand at what being a stay at home mom meant to me.  I gardened and grew fresh foods that I then would puree into baby food or can.  We attended mommy and baby story time at the library.  We went to parks, on long walks, to museums.  We had playdates with other mommies and babies.  It was amazing.  Then came the day that I had to go back to work.  The week before involved a lot of crying, pumping milk, more crying, not fitting exactly into my work clothes, which led to more crying and just generally fretting.  It was during this time that I began the arduous process of convincing myself that I wanted to go back to work, even needed to go back to work to be around other adults, to be with my students.

What I know now, that I didn’t want to admit then, was that I was lying to myself.  Deep down I knew it, I knew it as I sat in the parking lot of the school where I worked and cried for 20 minutes before I went in.  Cried every time I pumped at work the first few weeks.  And I had it pretty good, I was only working part-time only three days a week.

Eventually it got better.  I was able to be content at work and make the most of the time I had with the petite when I was at home.  I tried to keep the same schedule even going to mommy and baby story time and playdates.  As I moved through the year I found myself counting days till holidays and then till summer break.  We had made it, I was able to be a stay at home mom for about 2 months.

The following year when my petite was thirteen months old I returned to work full-time.  We found a childcare that we loved, with a lady who we were certain would love our petite while we were away.  It was still hard to drive off to work each day, but seeing how much she loved her new caregiver it was a lot easier to do, plus she loved playing with her new friends.  I was still plagued with mommy guilt, guilt about being tired sometimes when I picked her up, you see she was a horrible sleeper, waking up 4-5 times at night.  I felt guilty about that time in the middle of the night where I was miffed about having to get up to go function at work.  I felt guilty about not going to mommy and baby story time or playdates.  Mainly about missing things, again I tried to convince myself (and believe it) that even if she had a new milestone while I was at work, it would still be new when I saw it after work.

During this time another thing happened that I wasn’t really expecting.  I began to resent moms who were able to stay at home with their kids.  Especially those moms who would vent about their day at home with the kids on social media.  I was jealous, I would have given anything to stay at home, but it just wasn’t feasible for our family at the time.  I was doing what I had to do for our family and although I didn’t want to be working it was the situation.  I’m also embarrassed to say it but at times thought what do stay at home moms do all day?  I have to do all that other stuff when I get home or on the weekends…WTF.  What could they possibly fill their days with?  Oh dear.  Right?  Jealous.

When I would get home I ran around like a crazy person trying to get it all done and provide experiences as if I didn’t have to work.  Like Blueberry Pickingblueberry picking on the way home, or stopping at parks, setting up ice cream dates after work, trying to do cooking projects with a toddler like making homemade noodles after working all day.  Sometimes a success, sometimes yikes.

Well let’s fast forward a bit it’s now June 2013 and our sweet petite is a big sister.  Both my girls are just perfect…life couldn’t be better. Then came the discussion about what was going to happen when it was time to go back to work.  We lined up the same amazing childcare that we had for our first petite.  I sorted out with the HR department when I would come back to work, just after the Thanksgiving holiday.  Then came the biggest blessing of my life.  As my handsome hubby and I sat down and looked at the budget (a very scary word I have avoided for most of my adult life), we came to the amazing discovery that I did not have to go back to work.  WHAT?!?

Again something I didn’t expect happened.  I hesitated to jump up and down and scream yes please!  I pondered about my students, what it would look like now to stay at home, how it wasn’t really fair that I didn’t get to stay home with the first petite.  How I really do love my job.  All of these things came into my mind until I realized what I was doing.  I was now a full believer of what I told myself four years before. After making the choice to stay at home with my girlies I couldn’t be happier, I try not to bitch and moan if my day happens to be a shit show, especially to people who don’t have the privilege to stay at home with their petites.  But more than anything I now fully understand what stay at home moms do all day.  They work really hard.  I honestly don’t really know how I worked full-time with a little one either.  What I do know is that moms who work full-time, part-time or stay at home all work really hard and there is really no sense in sitting around comparing and trying to figure out who works harder than the other.  When we could spend that time thinking about how to support each other in our common job of raising petites.

Best Wishes,


Like I said...crazy person

Like I said…crazy person